Editor’s Note: This is our fourth installment of a 4 1/2 month challenge, Dark Days, taken up by 88 blogs spanning the country, to eat one meal a week as local, sustainable, ethical and organic as possible. I’m talking gluten-free sweet potato gnocchi, my very own quart of canned tomatoes and some sautéed broccoli rabe. Read through to the end as we are running our first giveaway of 2011. -Christina
Like the ladies before me, Alexis, Leslie and Sarah, I too am all about local, seasonable and organic but usually only during the summer. What?! I can’t buy green beans and tomatoes from the grocery store for this challenge!!! In all seriousness, I did do a bit of planning during the summer as I have a lofty goal of being at least more seasonally conscious, so this challenge is a wonderful vehicle to test my work I did over the summer. Along with Sarah, I learned how to can & preserve via Sherri Brooks Vinton’s Put ‘Em Up. We have many, many posts praising the author’s fabulous book. If you want to learn how to can, you can do it with this book- no joke. I didn’t use any additional material; like a video, blog post, website, or another book to learn. I read the book cover to cover and canned a bunch of items: roasted pepper ketchup, whole tomatoes, apple chutney, pickles, Chinese plum sauce, applesauce, peach jam, salsa verde and corn relish, while also blanching and freezing various produce like three types of homemade pesto (spinach, ramp & basil), fennel confit, green beans, corn, potatoes, chives, and grated zucchini.
In our first post were asked to outline our exceptions; items you will not be trying to find locally. I have the same as others, mainly spices including salt & pepper and beans. Because of my son’s severe life-threatening food allergies I don’t have the luxury of using local milk or value-added products like butter, cream, yogurt and cheese. In addition, I can’t use local wheat flours. That’s not to say that next time I head to the bulk-bin-haven Honest Weight Food Co-op, I won’t investigate where my various GF flours and starches are sourced from. So stay tuned I may be surprised. I do have one item up my sleeve, semi-local olive oil. I’ve spoken about Dancing Ewe’s Extra Virgin Olive Oil CSA before, as I urge others to sign up. My bottle is not apart of the CSA, I’m signed up for the upcoming year March 2011. I purchased the bottle from Jody & Luisa, I wanted to try it before I purchased the 2011 share. It does not disappoint. Basically, Jody & Luisa make sheep & cow’s milk cheeses while also creating an olive oil from trees on Luisa’s family farm in Italy. They personally harvest and create the olive oil and bring it back to us, the consumers, in March of every year. I don’t know the full extent of the story and details, I’m planning on interviewing them in the future… In the meantime, The Dairy Show profiled them two years ago in their first show. Watch on Vimeo here.
Okay, back to my meal for the challenge. Due to Christmas and New Year Day falling on a Saturday we went about 12 days without a farmer’s market. I didn’t plan that well, so I didn’t have any local protein to use. I was starting to have a mini-mental breakdown when I remembered that I had tried my hand at gluten-free gnocchi making in October and had frozen a whole meal’s worth. I am still planning to do a detailed post on my gnocchi experimentation, that totally rocked, but for now let’s say I used this recipe from the San Francisco Examiner as a base but adapted the ratio of potatoes to include sweet potatoes. Both potatoes I used where from my fall Kilpatrick Family Farm share. The eggs were from Elihu Farm and the olive oil was from Dancing Ewe but the rest of it; white rice flour, salt, potato starch, xanthum gum and corn starch were not anything but generic, big grocery store fare.
Next was the sauce: canned whole tomatoes from my special order 30 pounds of tomatoes from Denison Farm! A quick side note: the pre-canned tomatoes shown above as part of our logo banner. Next what do I do? You see, I have this WONDFERFUL book on my cookbook shelf (spanning the top of our sideboard) that I have ignored for far too long; Vegetable Soups from Deborah Madison’s Kitchen. Why why why me?! Well, it’s because until I had to cook for my son due to his food allergies, I really didn’t know what I was doing in the kitchen and soups intimidated me. I bought the book to “read up” and try to impress my husband, post-marriage. The book simply collected dust. I laugh at this concept now, as I make soup at least once a week but I bought this book to show me the soup ways of the world. I “skimmed it”cover to cover in December and I have rediscovered by I loved this book so much. Now I reference it whenever I’m making a soup. So I pulled out the beauty off the shelf, and looked in the index under Tomato and decided to make her Smokey Tomato Bisque (pg 157). The ingredients are simple & clean: One shallot from KFF (I adapted on this- wanted to put it in), one white onion from KFF, and 2 cloves of garlic from my summer stockpile from Wing Road Farm, 2 teaspoons of Dancing Ewe olive oil and my can of whole tomatoes. The non local ingredients are: 1/2 teaspoon of smoked paprika (again I adapted, the recipe states 1/4 t), 1 thyme sprig, salt & pepper, 1/3 teaspoon of sugar and 1 T cream. Here’s the deal: I forgot to add the sugar and rice milk. It was still AMAZING. My audience, Miles & Charles, gobbled it right up! So I can only imagine how amazing this soup is if I had followed the actual directions.
I rounded out the meal with two things. First, I sautéed some broccoli rabe from this past week’s first winter share from Kilpatrick Family Farm with olive oil, s&p, garlic from Winged Road Farm, a few red pepper flakes and some lemon juice. Delish. Lastly, since we don’t have wheat-anything in the house, I grabbed one brown rice tortilla made by Food for Life and toasted it to make crackers and dipped the pieces in Clifton Park’s own Gar-La-La’s Horseradish & Dill . I really hope this family exceeds with this excellent product and goes national because it-is-awesome. Its basically made of fresh raw garlic, potato, lemon, canola oil, sea salt, and pepper with varying herbs & spices based on their different flavor offerings. Its perfect for us as its completely allergy & gluten-free.
Now, onto the GIVEAWAY. We are giving away one (1) copy of Vegetable Soups from Deborah Madison’s Kitchen to a US resident. My apologizes to our international readers but I just calculated shipping and its equal to or more than the actual Amazon price of the book. Sorry!
- Open to US residents only
- Giveaway ends at midnight Thursday, January 27th, 2011 (running for 2 weeks)
The winner will be announced by midnight Sunday, January 30th, 2010.
The winner will be sent their book, by us, no later than February 5th, 2010.
- If we get less than 15 people entered, we will be picking the winner from a hat. If we get more than 15, we will be picking the winning comment randomly via random.org.
- All entries will be in the form of a comment BELOW. You can comment up to THREE times by doing the following:
1st comment: Answer this question: Do you or will you try to eat seasonally, even during the “dark days” of winter?
2nd comment: “like” us on Facebook, then comment below that you did so or tell us you already are!
3rd comment: Friend us on TWITTER or tell us you already are! We are very active on Twitter.
Again, ALL entries (up to three total) need to be in the form of a comment below on this post only. Good luck!